‘Going down to 38 games will be a godsend’ - Horsham boss reacts to new season fixtures

Horsham FC's ground at Hop Oast. (Pitch grounwork in far distance). Pic Steve Robards SR1818688 SUS-180717-154928001
Horsham FC's ground at Hop Oast. (Pitch grounwork in far distance). Pic Steve Robards SR1818688 SUS-180717-154928001

Horsham will begin and end their Bostik League South East campaign at home next season - although they will almost definitely be at different grounds.

With the league fixtures announced last week - seven days earlier than expected - the Hornets have learnt their schedule for the season, which includes a much-welcomed quiet festive period.

Horsham FC's ground at Hop Oast. (Pitch grounwork in far distance). Pic Steve Robards SR1818681 SUS-180717-154951001

Horsham FC's ground at Hop Oast. (Pitch grounwork in far distance). Pic Steve Robards SR1818681 SUS-180717-154951001

A reduced and newly-named South East division, will feature just 20 teams this season, meaning eight less league games.

Horsham will get their campaign underway at temporary home Culver Road on Saturday, August 11, welcoming Kent outfit Sittingbourne.

Their first away trip will be the following weekend when they travel to league new boys Sevenoaks Town, who dumped Dominic Di Paola’s side from the FA Cup two years ago with a surprise 4-2 defeat at Greatness Park.

The season concludes on Saturday, April 24, when the Hornets host Thamesmead Town. And all expectation is that this - unlike the season opener - will take place at the club’s brand-new ground at Hop Oast.

Construction at the site is continuing at pace with the smaller training/community pitch having all the perimeter fencing erected and the floodlight pylons installed.

The main pitch is now level and the tarmac layer is expected to go down in the next couple of weeks. The club is hoping to be using the ground early in the New Year.

Around that period there is no traditional Boxing Day clash this year - a welcome break for the players and staff after having to travel to Guernsey on December 26 last year.

The last game before Christmas sees Di Paola take his side to Haywards Heath Town on Saturday, December 22, and then they welcome Guernsey on New Year’s Day.

The return fixture to the Channel Islands is the penultimate game of the season on Easter Monday (April 22).

Derby clashes see Horsham host Haywards Heath on the August Bank Holiday (Monday 27), travel to Hastings United on Tuesday, September 24, with the return fixture on Tuesday, February 5.

They travel to play promoted Three Bridges at Jubilee Field on Saturday, November 24, with the home game on Saturday, February 16.

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola said: “It’s nice to play at home for the first game, although I have not won an opening game for four years since I was at East Preston and I do not think Horsham have won one for five years, so we will try and change that.

“There is far less travelling than last year and that is a godsend. It’s a lot to ask to play 46 games, the FA Cup, Sussex Cup, FA Trophy, Velocity Cup - it’s so much football.

“Going down to 38 games is much better for this level of football as if you have a couple of runs in cup competitions, you end up with a ridiculous backlog.”

On having no Boxing Day game, Di Paola added: “I like Boxing Day football, but if it’s a case of not having a game or going to Guernsey like last year, I’d rather not have a game. I won’t be complaining about that!”